With Wilbur the Penguin heading back to his family in Antartica, British Gas entered a new phase of their brand positoining in early 2020 - one that transitioned from the animated world to the very real one of family homes. 'Here to Solve' focussed on driving a change of perspective and shifting consumer perceptions.
Using real families and capturing real relationships, stories were told showing the effects that a broken boiler, a blown fuse box, or a leak can have on the flow of life. But when coronavirus hit, the campaign took on new relevance as consumers sought to be reassured that even in the worst of circumstances, this supplier stalwart would still be there for them.
Charlie Carpenter talks to British Gas's Margaret Jobling and The&Partnership's Sarah Golding about telling this new story in a 14 year relationship. About how the campaign struck a note of authenticity at the right time, and about the ups and downs of keeping a creative partnership thriving.
Our video interview will appear below, and be available to watch from 2pm on Thursday 2nd July.
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Margaret Jobling (Group CMO - British Gas, Centrica) has spent the majority of her marketing career in FMCG working on some iconic brands such as Lynx, Dove, Radox, Cadbury Dairy Milk and Birds Eye. She moved into the utilities sector in 2014 when she joined British Gas as Director of Marketing and is now operating globally as Group Chief Marketing Officer.
Sarah Golding is Chief Executive Officer and Partner of The&Partnership London and President of the IPA. She was voted Influencer of the Year 2018 by Creativepool, Woman to Watch 2017 by Ad Age, and is a founder member of the Unstereotype Alliance. Sarah is also a member of WACL and for the last 8 years has been voted by Campaign magazine as one of the industry’s top 10 account people.
5 key takeaways from the interview:
1. The work is as good as the relationship
“The work is as good as the client, so the relationship with the agency is critical to me,” said British Gas’s Margaret Jobling. The&Partnership's Sarah Golding was in agreement on the direct correlation between the quality of the relationship and the output. Both highlighted the importance too of communication, “brutal honesty [and] having fun along the way.”
2. Pitching as the incumbent is hard, but not impossible
Sarah Golding discusses having to repitch for the business in 2019: “It’s hard going into a pitch as the incumbent agency of 14 or 15 years … [and when it’s a reset brief] you’re seen as the past, not the future.” However The&Partnership, as part of ‘Team Nucleus’, rose to the challenge of the brief and, by way of a combination of relationships, experience and mutual understanding, helped deliver the transformation the client was looking for and retain the business.
3. Both sides are equally accountable
A manifesto of co-created behaviours by British Gas and The&Partnership’s teams ensures both agency and client teams are equally accountable. This manifesto lives in each office, with teams empowered to call out anything that is not in line with these behaviours. As Sarah Golding says, “It helped us do the right thing and make the right decision.”
4. Start with the business problem
Rather than jumping straight to the solution, Margaret Jobling says how her team started with the problem: “What is it we need? And what are the metrics we are measuring?” She is a champion of using data to leverage the power of creativity to deliver the most powerful results.
5. People first
“We wanted to put our people - our ‘solvers’ - at the heart of the story. We wanted an internal transformation too and to galvanise them around the true difference they can make in customers’ lives.” Sarah Golding talked about the power of the campaign. Something which for Margaret Jobling really resonated with customers. “It’s more human, it connects, its resonates, it gives the brand a much more active role.”
Read the BITE Focus for this episode